Graduation, college, and even the next school year may seem so far away for high school freshmen. But it’s much closer than you think! That’s why it’s helpful to start thinking about college starting freshman year. You may not know which colleges you’d like to attend or the major and minor you’d like to declare, but thinking about these things early in high school is a great idea. As a freshman, you should be asking your counselors for help, getting involved in extracurricular activities, exploring your interests, and planning your required high school classes ahead of time, all in preparation for college. Here’s how to get started!
Meet with your high school counselor
Building a relationship with your counselor(s) is one of the best ways to learn about college and what certain schools offer. Most high schools in the US have counselors, and if you’re unsure, you should ask your teachers or principal to point you in their direction. Scheduling meetings with your counselor is a great way to immerse yourself in the idea of college and if it’s the right choice for you and your plans for the future. Most jobs require some type of degree, ranging from a high school diploma to an associate degree to a bachelor’s to a doctorate. Talking to a mentor is a great way to figure out if the jobs or fields you’re interested in require a certain degree, plus how you can pursue them.
Get involved with extracurriculars
Extracurricular activities are one of the best ways to boost your college applications, and you should start adding them to your résumé your very first year of high school. Many schools encourage or require you to get involved in the community and your school, but volunteering and joining clubs can help you make memories and get you into college. Sports also look great on applications, but colleges love to see involvement beyond your team. Join a few clubs at school to see what you like, earn leadership positions, and go out and volunteer your time, money, or hands in the community. Be sure to stay involved throughout high school as well. With extracurriculars, it’s not about how many you join but your commitment to the ones you choose.
Explore your interests
Figuring out your interests in high school may lead you to a certain college major or job in the future. Knowing what you don’t like can also help your planning; for example, if you hate science class, you wouldn’t want to go to college to study Biochemistry or something similar. Look at what truly interests you and think about what would make you happy to do as a job. If you truly love sports but don’t want to play in college, you may find you have a passion for the medical field and major in Sports Medicine. Keep in mind that an interest you have at this point in your life may not be the same one you have in two or four years. As a high school freshman, you still have plenty of time to think, but exploring your interests now could give you a lot of ideas for your college search.
Plan out your future classes
As you progress throughout high school, the workload will become more difficult, but knowing what lies ahead before you reach that point is a helpful idea. In high school, you can choose different elective classes each year. You should plan out your electives as well as your required classes ahead of time to line up with the schedule that’s recommended to get you where you want to be when you graduate. If you’re interested in a program at a certain college, you should check to see if they have prerequisites, aka required high school classes to enter that program. This is quite common with science, health, and medicine majors.
Also, you may not have been in the same place academically as your peers when you transitioned from middle to high school; you may have to double up on classes to get back on track, or you may be in more advanced classes with upperclassmen. Knowing where you stand and what you need to do to graduate is an important step in achieving your future goals. Be sure to check in with your high school counselor frequently—they are there to help you plan out your high school path.
Some might say it’s way too early to think about something so far away in the future, but contemplating college as a high school freshman is never a bad idea. You don’t have to have your whole future planned out—just start thinking about utilizing all your resources, engaging yourself, and finding your true interests. Enjoy the ride, and best of luck!
Wondering what else you’ll have to do along the college admission journey? Check out our College Prep Checklist for All Four Years of High School!